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Full text of "Semi-centennial sermon delivered before the Holston Conference, M.E. Church, South, at its session in Asheville, N.C., October, 1888"

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Rev. C. D. SMITH, 


Holston Conference, M. E. Church, South, 



OCTOBER, 1888. 


Randolph & Kerr, Steam Printers 



It seems to me eminently proper that I should offer 
the following explanation as to the reasons why I did 
not follow the line of reminiscence in my semi-centen- 
nial sermon. Having written ten or a dozen sketches cf 
the early Holston preachers which were published in 
the Holston Methodist, and not having seen an ed- 
itorial sentence in commendation of them ; and besides 
this, considering the fate of those members of the Con- 
ference who had preceded me on that line, I found no 
special ground of encouragement to pursue the remi- 
niscenal line. It occurred to me, therefore, that if I 
could in my sermon direct the minds of the young men 
of the Conference to such lines of thought and study as 
might, in connection with their theological course, fur- 
nish them with a great fund of varied and useful infor- 
mation and at the same time improve and cultivate 
their style and readiness in the pulpit, I would, perhaps, 
achieve the most valuable work of ray fifty-one years 
in the Conference. If mv brethren desire of me remi- 
niscences, (which differ essentially from a sermon), 
they know how to get at it. 




My Brethren of the Holston Conference: 

The duty imposed upon me by the action of your last session 
is a difficult one to perform. In the discharge of this task I 
may not hope to satisfy to the full that common diversity of 
taste and those ever varying notions of propriety and fitness 
common to so large a body of Christian ministers. The most I 
can hope is that I may be able to present to you some lines of 
thought for your future study that may prove to be useful. 
And, although some parts of the discourse may seem out of 
place and at variance with the usual methods on such occasions, 
yet I claim that they involve great principles and truths perti- 
nent to the studies of a Christian minister. And now, with a 
devout reliance upon God, and trust in your forbearance, I pro- 
ceed to the work assigned me. 

There is a passage in the loth chapter of liomans, and the 
4th verse, which suggests the theme for discussion to-night. 
It reads as follows: "For whatsoever things were written 
aforetime were written for our learning." 

My brethren, we are, from the beginning, mere learners. — 
What we know, either relatively or absolutely, is acquired. The 
powers of the human mind are latent — are only constitutional 
capabilities to be brought out and developed — to be enlighten- 
ed and quickened into their activities and perceptive force by 
training. The human mind has a wonderful adaptation to its 
surroundings. The world with all its objects addresses itself 
to these capabilities. Hence the eye, the ear, and indeed all 
the sensibilities of our physical organism, are agents for con- 
veying impressions from this objective universe to the brain — 
for generating ideas and thoughrs, if I may so express it, in the 
mind, and for quickening and calling into life and activity the 
mental and intellectual forces. Without something objective, 
either real or imaginary, there could be no comparison — noth- 
ing logical. Indeed, there eoald be no brain work, as we shall 
presently see, without some object upon which to put forth its 
powers. The mind and the world, in this regard, seem to have 
been made the one for the other, and it is in the contact be- 
tween them that the working machinery of the brain is put in- 
to motion. 

The experiment in the case of the celebrated Kaspar Hauser 
•exemplifies in a most striking manner the truth of this normal 
condition of the human mind. He was isolated when an in- 
fant and confined in a dark room or cell, deprived of light and 
all contact with the visible outer world and all its objects ; not, 
however, to such a degree as to destroy the power and growth 
■of the eye. He was denied the sound of the human voice and 


everything that could attract and call iuto action the latent 
faculties of the brain. He was cared for and nursed with scru- 
pulous assiduity, and fed and nourished up to the years of man- 
hood. When light was admitted aud the eye was sufficiently 
accustomed to it, he was brought out to look upon a new world — 
into contact with its objects — to hear for the first time the 
sound of the human voice, and although his physical frame was 
developed iuto the stature of a man he was an infant still. He 
gazed and stared with all the wonder and amazementof a new 
born babe upon the new objects aud beauties which struck his 
sight, and he had to be taught and trained as other infants. 
This remarkable case illustrates the grand truth that while we 
are iuvested with the latent elements of brain force — of mind, 
I may say — we are only learners, only students from the cra- 
dle, occupied in acquiring knowledge and in developing and 
applying that brain force until we bring out and sharpen for 
use its highest capabilities. 

Again, the progressive steps in this work of developing aud 
training the mind may be aptly illustrated by the progressive 
stages in the work of the sculptor, who, with mallet and chisel, 
dislodges chip after chip from the rough ashler, until finally he 
brings out and invests, with almost life expression, the features 
he designs to delineate. In like manuer must the human mind 
be manipulated and brought out fronr its ignorance and shape- 
less originality into the many forms of mental culture and beau- 
ty ; aye, 1 may say sublime divinity, of which it is capable. 

This normal condition of the human mind so graciously pro- 
vided with an objective universe and all necessary collateral 
agencies for its development and growth exemplifies the moral 
coudition of the human soul since the fall. Without God's 
grace, aud Spirit, and Word, it is as ignorant and helpless as 
an infant, and must remain so. As the physical man is at the 
time of his birth physically and mentally a babe, so is the mor- 
al man at the time of his spiritual birth only a babe in Christ. 
As in the case of the physical man, so God has likewise sur- 
rounded the moral man with spiritual conditions and agencies 
suited to his development and growth. God has invested the 
human soul with senses corresponding to our natural senses — 
seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling and tasting. To these the 
Scriptures address themselves in the work of man's spiritual 
regeneration, aud through successive spiritual agencies to all 
subsequent development and growth in the knowledge aud love 
of Christ. Upon this grand Scriptural truth the general judg- 
ment is founded. Upon it rests the doctrine of rewards aud 
punish meut so vividly portrayed by our Lord. Without such 
seusibility the very idea of joy or pain, of reward or punish- 
ment, would be a monstrous fabrication — an idle and senseless 
contradiction in terms. Here rests, indeed, the reason for the 

Scriptural contrasts so vividly drawn between heaven aud hell 
— between the fires of the bottomless pit and the glories of par- 
adise — between the woes of the damned and the exultant joys 
of the saints in heaven. O, what hallowed thoughts gather 
about this subject of spiritual development and growth as we 
ripen in experience and knowledge, in faith and love, "Till we 
all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the 
Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the fullness of the stature 
of Christ." 

Among the things written aforetime for our learning the 
books of Moses stand pre-eminent. They alone give an author- 
itative history of our origin. They alone tell the story of crea- 
tion aud of the high faculties with which man was endowed as 
he came from the hands of his Creator, and of the glories with 
which he was surrounded in Eden. They first tell the sad sto- 
ry of the fall aud expulsion from that exalted station — of the 
darkness and gloom that followed — of the moral wreck that 
swept away everything in the offspring of the original offend- 
ers except the constitutional capacity to acquire knowledge 
and regain a better than the lost estate. Moses tells of Cain 
and Abel, of Abraham and the patriarchs, and the old worthies. 
What a sublime history indeed did Moses write! It reaches 
back to the profoundest depths of antiquity, and reveals the 
transactions of theocratic times and the nomadic customs of the 
patriarchal ages. While Moses has often been the subject of 
ridicule and the coarse ribaldry and jest of brainless skeptics 
no one has attempted to re-write that history — to give us a 
more trustworthy account of the times of which he wrote. No 
oue has dared to deny that Adam, and Enoch, and Abraham, 
and Gideon, and Joshua lived, and no one but Moses has giv- 
en a historic account of their times; and with what majesty 
these records are confirmed by "thus saith the Lord !" What 
can, my brethren, exceed for majestic grandeur and sublimity 
the passage of the Eed Sea, the scenes of Mt. Sinai and the 
giving of the tables of the law, together with the heroism and 
endurance in the wilderness, and the last hours of Moses as he 
stood upon the top of Mt. Pisgah and gazed upon the promised 
land beyond, spread out before him in all its grandeur and 
beauty? Here the curtain falls and we dare not speculate up- 
on the probable emotions which filled his heart as he closed his 
eyes upou the scene aud went up to God. These things were 
written aforetime for our learning, and the student, whether 
theological or otherwise, who does not study them, though he 
may graduate with the first honors of his class, is sadly defi- 
cient. He is deficient in regard to a knowledge of bis origin 
and the earliest authentic history of the race — deficient as to 
any correct knowledge of the one Divine will which directs 
and governs all. He is deficient as to the originalcode which 

invests all human as well as divine law with force aud author- 
ity. And he is deficient in the most vital oi' all points, the first 
lesson which teaches man what he is and points to a Messiah 
to come — a lesson which first portrays the beneficence of our 
merciful Creator in providing for us life and hope. Whatever 
else you may study, 1 beseech you to study and master the Mo- 
saic records. It will develop the noblest elements of your 
Christian manhood. It will fill your minds with the snblimest 
conceptions of Cod and your relation to him of which they are 
capable. It will solidify and strengthen every other knowl- 
edge and grace you may acquire, and it will put into motion in 
your life aud faith an otherwise dormant power for good, with- 
out which every success would be a curse and life's labors 
would prove a wreck and a ruin. 

Again, we consider the things "written aforetime for our 
learniug" in the books of the Hebrew Prophets. They were, 
by plenary inspiration, endued with a foreknowledge of com- 
ing events. There were Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, 
and Daniel, and the other prophets to whom the prophetic vis- 
ions were allowed, and through whom the Divine hand traced 
in graphic pictures the rise and glory and then the downfall 
and ignominy of empires and powers — the hideousuess and suc- 
cess, and then the overthrow of the man of sin — the glory and 
grandeur and then the decline aud desolations of the Jewish 
church — the terrible destruction of Jerusalem and the end of 
the Jewish nation, aud then we have a picture drawn in colors 
of living light of the coming of Messiah the Prince to conquest 
and victory, and the universality and perpetuity of his reign 
and dominion. We have, indeed, in these prophetic visions a 
divine panorama in which God's method of dealing with hu- 
man powers is set forth, where Satau and sin are arrayed on 
one side, and God and righteousness on the other: where hu- 
man governments and powers have assumed authority to crush 
out Messiah the Prince, and God and hi« Christ have under- 
taken to maintain the divine authority and integrity. In this 
conflict— in these wars so graphically described in these pro- 
phetic visions — we have a wonderful display of the arrogance 
of the powers of darkness as arrayed against the authority of 
the Almighty. Here are some examples of such arrogance :— 
Proud Niuoveh was, in human estimation, exalted to heaveu. 
Her princes and her people waxed strong against the God of 
battles. But when God touched her she sank — when the di- 
vine fiat went forth she become a heap of ruins, aud the great- 
ness of her boasted architects aud builders and the glory of 
her rulers lie buried beneath the place where Xineveh once 
stood. Turn now your eyes to another of these prophetic vis- 
ions and see imperial Babylon as it was in the days of Isaiah. 
It was the centre of the wealth of nations, the metropolis of 


ancient fashion and luxury, the haughty and giddy mother of 
harlots, the petulant and supercilious devotee of passion and 
lust, the very school of iniquity and the friend and apologist of 
all crime. It was the embodiment and personification of im- 
perial insolence toward God and heaven. It entrenched itself 
behind human greatness and human power with the utmost 
confidence iu its safety and stability. But these could not save 
even Babylon. For when God arose in his majesty and pro- 
claimed her overthrow and her ruin the besom of destruction 
swept her from her foundations forever. Aye, imperial Baby- 
lon went down amidst the orgies of a drunken debauch. And 
what shall I say of opulent Tyre, the commercial centre of the 
eastern world iu prophetic times I With her purple and fine 
linen, her merchandise in woods and precious ointments, her 
merchant princes and her mei chant ships upon the high sea*, 
her harbor and fortifications, her merchandise in gold, and sil- 
ver, and men, and precious stones, and in all manner of mate 
rial for traffic. But with all her opulence, her grandeur and 
her prestige of wealth and fashion she went down at the voice 
of God, and the site where this once proud mistress of the seas 
stood haslonge since been covered with the nets of fishermen^ 
Likewise Moab, and Syria, and Damascus and all the regions 
embraced in the prophetic denunciations have passed under 
the hand of the Almighty and only remain as monuments of 
his truth and justice. What grand lessons for our study the 
prophets have written ! What volumes so pregnant with di- 
vine truth and justice for our learning, and what inexorable ad- 
monitions to all supercilious and corrupt cities and govern 
ments and powers in all the ages. 

There are other lines of thought suggested by the text which 
it may, perhaps, be profitable to consider. In classic lore much 
has been written for our learning. Cresar, and Virgil, and 
Cicero and their contemporaries have given us valuable lessons 
in philology — have furnished us a language which has confer- 
red untold benefits, especially upon the English speaking peo 
pies of the earth. We cannot ignore this averment because 
the Latin has furnished a larpe share of the radicals in our 
English words, and in an important degree it has smoothed 
down much of the roughness of our old Anglo-Saxon and en- 
riched and embellished our language. Tndeed, there is much 
to be learned from the old classics in rhetoric and oratory. 
There is much, too, while we admit their faults, from which we 
may draw valuable lessons for our study in some of their law* 
and customs. Plato said, "Shall we not ordain by law that 
boys shall not, on any account, taste wine till they are eighteen 
years old ?" "And among the Bomans no youths of quality 
drank any wine till they were thirty years of age." There was 
a profound philosophy in all this. For they had learned what 

we with our boasted civilization seem slow to learn — that a na- 
tiou 1 s youth, educated and trained in the strictest habits of so- 
briety and abstinence, always developed the noblest traits of 
national manhood and furnished the surest means of national 
defense and progress. To these prohibitory laws and habits 
of sobriety may be attributed much of that Lioman valor which 
imparted to the Koinan cohorts that dauntless courage which 
made them invincible on the field of battle. The records show 
us also that with the introduction of luxury and the abandon- 
ment of their prohibitory statutes, Roman valor and manhood 
declined, and finally, as a legitimate result, the glory of that 
once proud empire culminated in desolation and ruin. There 
is much here for our learning ; much for our devout study if we 
would see the world subdued to Christ. Would to God that 
our own beloved America could be aroused to comprehend the 
sources of national manhood and defense as did those sturdy 
old Romans ! 

Again, the things written aforetime by the ancient Greeks 
contain much for our learning. Their mythology is full of food 
for thought. They believed in A super-ruling power. They 
believed that there was a presiding diviuity over everything, 
and while they did not comprehend the personality and attri- 
butes of the Supreme God, as did Moses and the Hebrew 
prophets, yet they did not attribute anything to mere chance. 
They did not have protoplasm or evolution working up man, 
by some inhereut power or process, from a brainless worm into 
the likeness and image of God. With them nothing transpired 
without the presence and agency of a deity, and although they 
had a presiding - divinity for each object in the heavens above 
and in the earth beneath, yet each of these deities was with 
them a very God. The idea of a supreme divinity, though 
vague and fabulous, nevertheless impressed itself upon their 
architecture — an architecture which remains, in its essential 
features, unrivaled. Each creation of architectural order atiu 
beauty in their minds came out from a brain fired with the 
idea of a God. This conception, in the Grecian mind, of the 
idea of a supreme divinity lay not only at the foundation of ev- 
ery conception of order and harmony, of grandeur and beauty, 
of proportion and adaptability, in the mind of a Grecian archi- 
tect, but in the minds of all others as well. It lent its charms 
to Grecian sculpture and painting. It was the soul and inspi- 
ration of Grecian eloquence, and poetry, and music. This sug- 
gests to us a valuable lessou for our learning as public speak- 
ers. Now, by way of contrast, I ask what conceptions of 
grandeur or beauty could protoplasm have inspired in the 
mmd of a Grecian master in the arts? What additional 
charms could protoplasm have imparted to the eloquence of 
Grecian orators? What new ami additional sweet chord 

could protoplasm have touched in the music of a Greek maid- 
en 1 In what possible respect could protoplasm or evolution 
have embellished and beautified Grecian poetry if It needs on- 
ly a moment's consideration of the difference between the idea 
of a supreme diviuity when fixed in the mind and the vagaries 
of protoplasm to convince you what it was that made Grecian 
arts the models for the world ; what it was that imparted to 
Grecian eloquence those charms which all ages have endeav- 
ored to copy. It was the divinity which operated upon them. 
Nor were their gods distant deities — mere idlers in the un- 
known realms. They were ever present to their minds, and 
their action was constant and immediate, and it was this con- 
stant contact wh ch gave them the inspiration. And although 
this mythology was made up of fabulous and imaginary gods, 
yet the ever present contact of these deities with the mind and 
the influence it had upon Grecian worship operated upon them 
as though it were supreme. In this they may well put us to 
shame who so often isolate our God and put Him at a great dis- 
tance during our devotions, and thereby deprive ourselves of 
the inspiration resulting from immediate contact. These 
things were written aforetime for our learning, and they teach 
us that in whatever age men may have lived, and whatever 
may have been their nationality or their civilization, every 
conception of order, harmony, grandeur, sublimity, beauty and 
symmetry have ever been associated, in some way, in the hu- 
man mind with the idea of a supreme God — an almighty cre- 
ative power and skill. 

In the science of mathematics, whatsoever things were writ- 
ten aforetime were written for our learning. The old masters 
in this science cleared away the rubbish and laid the founda- 
tions which no one has ever dared to tear up. In the progress 
of this science, while much has been done to advance it, there 
has never been discovered a substitute for the problems of 
Euclid. Indeed the great Pythagoras did a work in his day 
which has come down through the ages for the benefit of our 
race. But what has this to do, you ask, with the Christian 
aninistry 1 I answer, much every way. There is nothing 
which so quickens and sharpens the intellectual and percep- 
tive faculties and trains the mind as the science of mathemat- 
ics, and any education which is deficient in this is deficient in 
a vital point — deficient in the most practical of all sciences, 
without a knowledge of which no minister is fully qualified to 
teach Christianity in this practical and matter of fact age of 
the world. The theological student whose training is deficient 
in the first great principles of mathematical science will, I war- 
rant you, be a dull student — one slow to comprehend and grap- 
ple with those great logical problems in which infidelity at- 
tacks our beloved Christianity. The sharper and more incisive 


the intellectual and perceptive forces, the greater will be the 
capacity for analysis, and when this is sanctified by the Spirit 
and grace of God, the greater will be the force in the pulpit. 
If these premises be correct there is much in mathemati«al 
science for our learning — a vital point in our mental training 
and qualification to meet the sophistry and pseudo infidelity 
-of the times in our glorious work for the Master's cause. 

In the science of astronomy, too, the old author's wrote much 
^for our learning." Aristotle, Hipparchus, Gallileo, Kepler. 
Copernicus and Newton traversed the unexplored fields and 
worked out problems which have conferred untold benefits up- 
on mankind; problems which have made us familiar with 
much that was written by Moses in Genesis. It has exalted 
navigation and made the oceans tributary to the civilization of 
the nations of the earth. It has opened up a high road upon 
the seas for the gospel of the Sou of God, and, thank heaven, 
assured the fulfillment of that grand prophetic promise that 
God will give to his Son the heathen for his inheritance and 
the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession. Among 
the benefactors of this science and of our race Newton stands 
pre-eminent, for it was he who first clearly appreheuded and 
applied the principle which solved the mysteries of the solar 
■system — that law which binds the spheres to their circuits and 
maintains order in the blue heavens. Indeed, that great cen- 
tral force which flashed out upon Newton's mind and inaugu- 
rated a new era in the world's progress, binds together the 
whole material universe. Whether we consider this power as 
absolute or otherwise we are forced to admit that it acts as 
though it were directed by a supreme will. In this controlling 
force over matter we find an admirable exemplification of the 
divine creative energy which gave it being and still holds it 
|joised upon the arm that is almighty. Besides this all the 
planetary worlds hung out upon their orbits teach us a lesson 
of obedience. The very comets, after an apparent wandering 
tor centuries, through the unknown regions of the Creator, re- 
turn in obedience to the behest of this central power. While 
the law of force and obedience is so wonderfully displayed in 
the heavenly bodies, and while this order and harmony pre- 
sent to us so grand a lesson for our learning, it must be kept 
in mind that man only is found among all the handiwork of the 
Creator to rebel against the supreme will. We must remem- 
ber, too, that only man has been invested with intelligence, 
with freedom of will and the power of choice, and he is there 
fore put to shame in his disobedience by the devotion of obe- 
dient worlds. It is this intelligence, this freedom of will, this 
immortality with which man is invested that exalts him above 
the spheres. 

And now of the things written aforetime for our learning 


what shall I say, of history, and poetry and literature. I can 
not take the time here to discuss at length the valuable lessons 
which history teaches us of human events — of the records it 
makes of the rise and downfall of nations and empires — of the 
records it gives us of the divine dispensations with human 
governments and peoples — of the discovery and regeneration 
of continents — of the recovery of our race from barbarism and 
the progress of civilization — of the uprising of the hydra-head- 
ed monster infidelity, and how it has failed in the unequal con- 
flict with God. What a vast field is here presented to us from 
which to replenish our stores of knowledge for future use and 
for our own mental culture and improvement. Let me urge 
you, my brethren, to read history; not, however, in the custom- 
ary way, as mere narrative, but study as you read the divinity 
and philosophy that underlie it. I have scarcely known a per- 
son well read in history who was not intelligent and qualified 
to impart profitable information. It has a tendency also to 
improve our language and style, and to add to our fluency as 
public speakers, and no minister ought to be without a famil- 
iar knowledge of it. There is, however, let me say, my breth- 
ren no such thing in fact as profane history. All histor3 r truth- 
fully written is but a record of the dealings of God with na- 
tions and peoples, and bears upon every page of it the foot- 
prints of a hidden divinity. Here is a prolific field for thought 
and study — a field from which we may gather a rich harvest of 
practical and valuable information, for our use in the work of 
the holy ministry. 

It is with much misgiving that I venture to say a few words, 
about poetry and the authors who wrote it, before so scholarly 
an assembly of divines as this. I will say, however, there 
has lived but one Homer, who, in the Iliad and Odyssey, struck 
out from his own brain, without a teacher, those glowing sparks 
which iuspired the songs of the bards and filled the Orient 
with the sublimest pictures of intellectual grandeur and beauty .. 
And it may be said of the poetic creations of John Milton that 
no English speaking poet has been his peer. The personalities 
and pictures in Paradise Lost stand unrivaled in Euglish verse. 
Indeed, with all the imitative capacity of our race, no one has 
been found able to rival or copy the poetic genius of these 
great masters, Homer and Milton, and to them is due a special 
meed of praise, because, while they made free use of poetic li- 
cense, they did not, in reality, present a character or ideal per^ 
sonality nor construct a sentence calculated to convey an im- 
pure or unchaste thought to the iniud. And to them, as poets,, 
we must yet go for our sublimest thoughts and conceptions 
with which to adorn and beautify our language. This of itself 
is worthy of your consideration. 

In sacred poetry and hymnology Charles Wesley certainly has 


no peer. His sacred lyrics have furnished us, in verse, a body 
of divinity — a poetic treatise on the great cardinal doctrines 
of the Bible not equalled in the writings of any other poet. 
To superior poetic merit lie added a pathos and earnestness 
which could only come from a heart overwhelmed with a con 
scions sense of spiritual regeneration and all afire with the 
presence and love of God. I do not hesitate to say that Charles 
Wesley's hymns contain the best — the most practical exposi- 
tion of experimental religiou uow extant, and we can not af- 
ford, as a church, to ignore or exchange them for the present 
frivolous and more popular ditties. The experimental and doc- 
trinal depths of these Wesleyan hymns invest them with a 
power, which had, in the days of our fathers, much to do with 
that great gospel revival called Methodism. A single compari- 
son between Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts will verify what 
I have said in regard to Wesley's superior knowledge in the 
deep spiritual things of God. While Watts stood at the foot 
of Mt. Pisgah with his eager, longing eyes turned toward its 
hallowed summit, he exclaimed 

" Could we but climb where Moses stood 

And view the landscape o'er. 
Not Jordan's stream nor death's cold flood 

Should fright us from the shore. ,? 

Now, see Charles Wesley, with his spiritual vestments 
dipped in blood and fired by the presence of the witnessing 
spirit. He stood amidst the topmost glory of the spiritual Mt. 
Pisgah and taking one long ravishing view of the glorious in- 
heritance beyond, he exclaimed 

iw The promised land from Pisgah "s top 

I now exult to see ; 
My hope is full (O glorious hope) 

Of immortality." 

This contrast, my brethren, is striking and the difference es- 

in English composition and literature, I am sorry to say. I do 
not see the progress which the boast and parade of our times 
indicate. Upon this subject I have but few words to say. 
This much, however, I will say, that a good deal of chaffy 
French is now being substituted for much good English. The 
French language, too, as it is found in French literature, does 
not tend to the development of heart purity, and besides this, 
it adds nothing to the beauty and force of English composi- 
tion. The same may be said of our current, light English lit- 
erature, which abounds in language expressive of imagination 
and passion, but is destitute of sober thought and commend 
able brain work ; and besides this, it is mischievous and dan- 
gerous to society. It is the mother of numerous social evils. — 
It is the handmaid of domestic infelicity and a potent obstrnc 


tion to the spirituality and simplicity of a pare and holy Chris- 
tian life. If yon, my brethren, would study the power and de- 
sire the best use of good English — if you would be terse and 
-ornate in your style — you will find models in Burke andGrattan, 
in Jeffreys and Macauley, in Webster and Calhoun, in Fletcher 
and Wesley, worthy your study. 

And now, above all else, among the "things written aforetime 
for our learning," I besech you to study the sermons and mira- 
acles of our Lord. Study the lives and labors, the consecra- 
tion and peculiarities of the apostles. If you would be truly 
great in your lives — if yon would lessen human woe and help 
to raise this sin-blighted world from moral desolation and ig- 
norance — take lessons from the Master who presided over the 
little company of disciples in Judea. Strive to emulate the 
twelve who counted not their lives dear if they might win souls 
to Christ. This labor of love is the chief good of a preacher's 
life and the guaranty of his crown of rejoicing. 

I have, in the preceding paragraphs, passed rapidiy over a 
broad held for thought. This I have done for two reasons : — 
1st, Because the learning of a Christian minister ought, in my 
judgment, to be so diversified as to take in a knowledge of the 
character, the conditions, the progress and causes of civiliza- 
tion through all the ages ; and 2d, Because the several topics 
under discussion furnish a great treasure-house from which we 
may draw much material for thought and mental culture that 
we may be thereby the better equipped for the great battle with 
modern infidelity, and because I thought that I might, at my 
time of life, call the attention of youuger brethren to them. 

What I said of the latent powers of the hnmau mind and its 
•development and growth in the beginning of this discourse is 
true of the moral man in his fallen state. It was upon this as- 
sumption of man's moral and spiritual ignorance and utter help- 
lessness, and the absolute necessity for instruction and guid- 
ance that our Lord commissioned the twelve and ordered them 
u #o teach all nations. v This command applies with equal force 
to all, who in the succeeding ages, have been and may be call- 
ed to this work. Those, however, who are entrusted with the 
work of teaching must first be taught themselves. They must 
be qualified by spiritual regeneration, must bring the certifi- 
cate of the witnessing Spirit, must have the signet of spiritual 
power, before they are worthy of a teacher's trust. Nor are 
we left to mere conjecture on so important a ma'ter, for the last 
words of our Lord before he ascended are full and explicit: — 
a Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon 
you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem and 
in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of 
the earth.'* This pledge to the twelve and the little company 
•of disciples was fulfilled on the Pentecost, when the final qual- 


ification was given and tbe work of teaching- commenced in 
earnest — a work which is to continue until the glory of Messiah's 
reign shall extend "from sea to sea, and from the rivers unto 
the ends of the earth." 

Nor is it incompatible with the language of the text that 
"whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our 
learning," if we apply it to the history of the church from the 
days of St. Paul to the present. I pity the preacher who can 
read and study this history of the Christian centuries and re- 
main a formalist — a plodding iceberg in the pulpit — a mere 
gladiator in the field of sacramentalism, while the seething, 
raging multitudes of sinners are rushing madly upon the very 
gates of hell. Let the blood-stained pages of this history fire 
erery good, brave heart, and bring out a united pulpit to buckle 
on the whole armor of God and grapple with the common foe 
until the shout of victory shall be heard in every land. There 
is ample in this history for our hope and encouragement. The 
faith and endurance of the martyrs, the unswerving fidelity of 
Luther and Melancthon to the doctrine of faith only in the jus- 
tification of the sinner, the heroie faith and labors of Arminius 
and Wesley and their co-workers iu behalf of free grace and 
impartial, though conditional salvation, and the witness of the 
Spirit wrought untold benefits to mankind and changed the 
Christian map of the world. As one of the fruits of those 
labors the Methodist church was brought into being — a church 
whose highest aim has ever been to contend for the faith once 
delivered to the saints and help on with the grand work of the 
world's conversion. And we are admonished by analogous 
reasoning that if Methodism remains true to her trust — to the 
grand scriptural doctrines which gave her being and has ever 
been the source of her power and success, no sacramentalism or 
priestly goblins nor any other power on earth can destroy her. 

There is also a traditional and oral chapter in the early his- 
tory of Holston Methodism worthy the profoundest considera- 
tion of us all. It concerns the labors of the pioneers — the cav- 
alrymen some of whom often traveled from four to six hundred 
miles on horseback to attend the session of an annual confer- 
ence. These were the men who built up this great structural 
Methodism and bequeathed it to us as an inheritance. They 
cleared away the rubbish and labored upon the foundations 
while we toil only upon the dome. They bore the heat and 
burden of the day, and we enter in to enjoy the fruits of their 
labors. They occupied the front rank and manned the hean/ 
guns iu the great battle for truth and we are now the benefici- 
aries of their victories and triumphs. They did not skirmish 
or dally and caress with error and popular sins but joined the 
battle with the foe on sight. They carried no flags of truce 
and offered no compromises as to the boundary line between. 


sin aud righteousness, but stood in the breach like a great bul- 
wark beating back his satauie majesty and the imps of" hell 
at every point. This they did with the grand fundamental 
doctrines of the Bible, human depravity, repentance, faith, re- 
generation, the witness of the Spirit aud free grace, and above 
all and the chiefest of all gospel weapous, the invisible power 
•of the Holy Gho«t. Those fathers of our Methodism were in- 
deed great lovers of truth. It was their shield and buckler. 
Upon it they founded their hopes, aud with it, in the name of 
•God they lifted up their banners aud marched to victory and 
conquest. But few of them were educated, as the world counts 
education. Yet they were learned in the great principles and 
plan of human redemption aud salvation. They did not believe 
that God had restricted himself, exclusively, to an educated 
class in calling mankind to repentance. Bather, they relied 
upon the truth through which God hath chosen men, by the 
belief of it, to salvation. Aud in the exposition and applica- 
tion of the truth they trusted to the highest of all gospel sour- 
ces, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to make it effec- 
tive iu the salvatiou of sinners. It was at this point and 
through these agencies that they achieved their victories — 
that they saw whole congregations bow and tremble before 
God. It was that heroic faith — that invisible presence— those 
burning coals upou the altar that assured their success. O, 
had we, my brethren, the conscious presence of God, as they 
often had it. Had we the implicit confidence which they 
possessed. Did we feel iu our pulpit work that tender melting 
love which so often thrilled them as they wrestled with God 
for the salvation of precious souls — O had we the baptism of 
the Holy Ghost as I have seeu them have it ere this Confer- 
ence session closes, we would see the batteries of hell shaken 
to their very foundations in the city of Asheville Treasure it 
in your minds, my brethren, that there is nothing less required 
now in the work of salvation — in repentance, in faith and the 
new birth than there was fifty years ago. God has not-altered 
his method in conversion and its spritual depth, nor modified 
his agencies for its accomplishment from the time of that mem- 
orable interview between Nicodemus and our Lord to the pres- 
ent hour. Now, if we adhere to this gospel standard — this 
magna charta — this grand fundamental constitution of our 
church, Methodism in Holston is destined to achieve new vic- 
tories and go on to new conquests. 

It has been generallv believed that old men, and old preach- 
ers especially, become croakers. I, however, have no quarrel 
with you, my brethren of the Holston Conference. My obser- 
vation and experience have been that old men are usually more 
intolerant of each other than young men. Young men as a 
rule are rather disposed to be neglectful — to be especially ob- 


livious of the experience and observations of the aged — are 
more inclined, particularly in their pulpit performances, to the 
pardonable vanity of Robert Burn's Scotch 'daddies" whom 
he ironically said knew "muier than their auld daddies."' Be 
fchis as it may, the first element in the character of a Christian 
gentleman or lady is deference for others, especially the aged 
and infirm. I am by no means despoudeut of the Church on 
account of its young ministers. They are the hope of the 
•Church and the world. Cod has never iutended to leave him- 
self without witnesses and messengers of salvation and upon 
you have fallen the mantles of our sainted fathers of the Con- 
ference. I believe God will consecrate and be with you in your 
work of reaping the uow whitening fields. 1 believe that when 
I am gathered to the realms of the dead with those in whose 
ranks I served half a century ago you will serve my children 
aud my children's children with the same blessed gospel which 
has all the while been the comfort and support of my life for 
more than fifty-two years. To believe less would be treason to 
my creed, treachery to my faith and an abandonment of all the 
hopes that have quickened and cheered my life. I believe also 
from the history of the past and the promises of G-od for the 
future, that Methodism will continue to grow and will expand 
iuto one of the grandest auxiliary forces for the world's con- 
version ; and iu the final harvest of the earth she will come up 
to the final reckoning bringing her sheaves with her. Then, 
when our work is done — when the last wild wave of human woe 
shall have spent its fury upon the earth, and the cries of the 
widow and the orphan shall be heard no longer, and when the 
last piteous wail of the damned shall be hushed amidst the 
loud thunders of eternal justice, the augel of love and mercy 
wdl come to gather us home to the marriage supper of the 
Lamb. O what a glorious reunion of the loved and the just 
that will be! Abel and Enoch and Elijah will be there. Mo- 
ses, and Joshua, and Samuel, aud Abraham will be there. And 
che prophets of God and the apostles of Christ will be there. 
And the martyrs who gave their lives for the love of God, and 
Luther, and Melancthon, and Stilliugfleet, and Lord King, aud 
the Wesleys, and Whitfield, and John Fletcher with his checks, 
aud our sainted fathers of the Conference whom we have known 
and loved so well will be there; and we hope through the 
abounding mercy and love of God to be there also to join with 
the general assembly and Church of the first born in heaven 
in singiug that grand old hymn : 

All hail the power of Jesus" name. 

Let angels prostrate fall; 
Bring forth the royal diadem 

And crown him Lord of all. 


Ye Gentile sinners ne'er forget 

The wormwood and the gall. 
Go, spread your trophies at his feet. 

And crown him Lord of all. 

Let every kindred, every tribe, 

On this terrestrial ball, 
To him all majesty ascribe, 

And crown him Lord of all. 

O, that with yonder sacred throng, 

We at his feet may fall ! 
We'll join the everlasting song 

And crown him Lord of all. 

O, brethren, had I the lungs of Gabriel, the voice of an arch- 
angel, I would raise to-night, in the city of Asheville, a shout 
that would leap from mountain peak to mountain peak until 
the whole of this grand plateau would tremble from center to 
circumference with the victorious shouts of the Lord's hosts. — 
"And now, unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly 
above all that we ask or think, according to the power that 
worketh in us : Unto him be glory in the Church by Christ 
Jesus throughout all ages world without end. Amen." And 
let all the people say amen. 




Form No. A-368, Rev. 8/95